Beginner Gardener - Knowledgebase Question

Pittsburgh, Pe
Question by latishadavis
March 4, 2010
Hi! There is a trough outside of my apartment, which last summer was a complete eyesore because of all of the weeds that grew out of it. I want to start a garden there but I don't know much about preparing soil to get ready for planting. What advice can you give me on softening the soil and getting it ready for planting, as well preventing the weeds from coming back and killing my new flowers!

Answer from NGA
March 4, 2010


The best way to improve soil is to amend it with organic matter. I'd start by pulling or digging out all the weedy growth, then spreading 4-5" of organic matter over the top of the soil and digging it in to a depth of 8-10 inches. Then level the soil in preparation for planting. To keep weeds from popping up in your new bed, cover the bed with weed barrier fabric and anchor it down with wire spikes. (I just cut wire coathangers and bend them into 8" long loops to use as oversized staples.) When you're ready to plant, cut slits or X's into the weed barrier fabric where you want to plant your plants. Weed barrier fabric will keep weeds from sprouting but will allow water to penetrate so there won't be any problem with watering your new plants. Once you've planted everything you can cover over the weed barrier with decorative bark nuggets, shredded bark mulch or even stones to make a really attractive bed. Enjoy your new garden!

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